Comedy vs Revenge

Falstaff is an interesting man in this play. He is what makes this play a comedy. In the beginning when he was robbed by Hal and Poins, he lied and said he fought at least fifty men during the fighting. When Hal reveals that it was himself and Poins to robbed Falstaff, Falstaff admits that he knew all along that it was Hal and he said that he ran away to avoid hurting Hal. In Act 3 Scene 3, again we see Falstaff trying to make himself look better than he really is. He accuses the Hostess of picking his pockets. He claims that he had money and a valuable ring but Hal reveals that he was the one who really picked Falstaff’s pockets. Hal says that tavern bills, candy and receipts from whorehouses were what were really in his pockets. In Act 4, again we see Falstaff trying to make things better for him. Hal asked him to recruit an army, but instead he asks wealthy men and men who are in love to join, but instead they give him money because they don’t want to leave their lives behind, which is exactly what Falstaff wanted. He instead recruits prisoners and poor men to become part of his poorly organized army.
On the opposite side is the revenge of story. Hotspur wants revenge on King Henry for not releasing his brother-in-law. He plots to overthrow the King and take over his throne. He makes allies with the Scots and Welsh to make war against the king. He works alongside Mortimer’s father-in-law Glyndwr to use his troops to go to war against the king. When he overthrows the king, Hotspur will become the new king. This reminds us of Richard II, when Bolingbroke forces Richard to give up the throne and Bolingbroke takes over. Not only does Hotspur want revenge on the king, but Hal also wants revenge on Hotspur. He wants to prove to his father that he is worthy of the throne and prove he can defeat Hotspur in the battle that is coming their way. He swears he will take revenge on Hotspur for everything that Hotspur has done against Henry.  He believes that when he defeats Hotspurs all of Hotspur’s achievements and glories will become his and he will gain respect from his people.
Again we hardly see women in this play. In Act 3 we see Lady Mortimer, Mortimer’s wife who doesn’t speak English. She weeps for him and he speaks loving towards her. Glyndwr has to translate between his daughter and son-in-law. She sings him a song in Welsh to everyone. While Lady Percy bids her husband farewell in a half-affectionate, half-fighting manner.

3 thoughts on “Comedy vs Revenge

  1. Tori Holm

    I think this post leaves us to ponder as to whether or not this play can be seen as more of a Comedy or a Tragedy, or Falstaff vs Hotspur. When we focus on the character of Falstaff specifically I would be hard pressed to state that this story is a Tragedy considering that the most tragic we have gotten, so far, is that Richard has been de-throned and there is talk of doing the same agin to Henry IV. But when looking at the devious character Hotspur and the plans he is making against the current king a forboding tragedy seems to be the only conclusion. I have yet to read the end of the play but I am not sure as to whether or not I can classify this play yet as tragedy or comedy. Am I the only one with this problem? Also, I wonder what in the final Acts will change my mind.

  2. Megan Kalmes

    I found your post to be very interesting. Falstaff is definitely an individual who turns the play into a comedy. Falstaff shows off his comedic abilities best in the scene in the tavern. He provides a borderline ridiculous confrontation over the belief that his pockets were picked. It is completely obvious to both the characters in the play and the readers that Falstaff is incorrect in regard to his accusations. Falstaff can be portrayed as a drunk fool as he discusses what he (incorrectly) believes to have been stolen from his pockets. Overall, this scene provides a sense of comic relief to an otherwise more serious play.

  3. Cyrus Mulready

    This is a very interesting comparison, Malissa, and a nice way of thinking about the forces of tragedy and comedy within the play. It's a crucial divide within the action, as we will see, and the comic register of the play becomes key in creating Prince Hal's redemption.


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